Iceberg Right Dead Ahead

Ice Right Berg Dead Ahead

Iceberg Dead Right Ahead! 

8 pm on board Titanic. For the crew, officers and the lookouts it was time for the watch to change. First Officer Murdock assumed the bridge where he briefly met and exchanged  information with Second Officer Charles Lightoller. By this time the temperature of the air was hovering near freezing.

Murdock ordered the ship’s carpenter to begin taking the sea water temperature as well. He reported that it was at a constant 28 degrees. He was next ordered to look after and monitor the ship’s water supply and keep the pipes from freezing up.

Murdock next called the crows nest and cautioned the two look outs to keep a keen eye on the seas ahead of Titanic. They were now clearly approaching the ice fields they had been warmed about. The sea was dead flat calm. No waves whatsoever. There was no moon only a canopy of brilliant stars to light their way.  It would be difficult to see an iceberg without the waves breaking against its base.

As if it wasn’t difficult enough for these two men positioned high up in the forward mast with no protection from the frigid winds that Titanic’s movement through the sea were causing. A steady blast of nearly twenty five miles an hour would cause the face and hands to nearly freeze.  Each man took turns ducking below the rail of the crows nest to have a bit of a break from this steady on slot of wind.

Their earlier request for binoculars was ignored by the bridge. There were a pair of binoculars once kept there but a last minute shuffle in officers before Titanic sailed from Southampton made these glasses a moot point. They had belonged to this displaced officer and he took them when he left the ship. The binoculars were forgotten by the officers but not the lookouts.

Slowly the time passed. Below in the passengers quarters another sumptuous dinner was winding down. The gentlemen were retiring to the smoking room for brandy and cigars and perhaps, a few hands of bridge before retiring for the night. Most of the ladies retired after having after dinner coffee in the beautiful reception room.

It was now quite cold outside and most unpleasant. Not at all conducive to walking the decks as they had done on the previous nights of the voyage. The younger set, those in their early twenties and some of the newly married couples took seats in the wonderful café Parisian adjacent to the Ritz Carlton restaurant on B deck. But after a few minutes of conversation and a quick after dinner drink the temperature proved much too cold and the room quickly emptied out.

It was better to be in a snug and warm bed than brave the cold north Atlantic that now surrounded the Titanic.

On the bridge, Captain Smith briefly made an appearance to speak with the watch officers. He had just finished a beautiful dinner in the Ritz Carlton as a guest of the Widener family of Philadelphia.. The captain commented that the sea remained flat calm and the temperature was now below freezing. It would be difficult to spot ice ahead of the ship. He informed Officer Murdock that he was going to his quarters just behind the bridge and he was to be called at once if anything out of the ordinary involving the operation of the ship occurred. 

The Titanic was now steaming at her fastest speed since the start of the voyage. The engines were breaking in beautifully and tomorrow those additional five boilers would be brought on line and an even better mileage would be achieved once this was done. Throughout the huge ship all was quieting down even the boisterous Third Class passengers had retired. There were only a few diehards up and about The stewards in the smoking room were yawning and trying to keep awake. It had been a long day and night. However a card game was in full swing now. Normally the White Star Line disallowed card games on Sunday but the rules were relaxed this night and the stewards would just have to wait it out. 

Eight Bells were sounded from the crows nest – eleven pm and all was in order. The lights were burning brightly and the sky was ablaze with thousands of stars. An occasional shooting star would streak across the heavens. Later, the lookouts commented that they had never seen so many shooting stars before. One of them said “you know when you see a shooting star that means someone is going to die” the other man just scoffed. After all he was freezing and they still had about an hour to go in their frozen purgatory before the watch would change and they could go below and thaw out.

Suddenly, at 11:40 pm lookout Fredrick Fleet spots a dark shape on the horizon. He’s not sure of what it is so he tells his mate Lee to look ahead as well. They both watch as this dark shape materializes into the shape of a giant dark iceberg and its directly in their path. Three quick soundings of the bell above them and Fleet picks up the telephone that connects to the bridge. “What did you see?” the Officer inquires “Iceberg dead ahead!”he replies. The quiet of the bridge is now broken as Officer Murdock orders the helm put hard over as he pulls the ship’s telegraph to reverse engines – full speed astern. Murdock then runs out to the starboard bridge wing and sees the icy menace now looming directly ahead. With the wheel hard over to starboard the ships bow slowly begins to turn to port.It looks like they will miss the ice, barely in time. Murdock then goes to the switchboard and closes the watertight doors to Titanic’s 16 compartments below the water line.

The bow has cleared the berg but there is now a rumbling, scraping sound from far below that signals they have struck the ice anyway. Murdock returns to the starboard bridge wing and watches as tons of ice break off the huge berg and tumble to the fore deck below. The iceberg is almost level with the bridge - a good seventy five or eighty feet in height.  The rumbling continues and the berg quickly passes down the starboard side of the ship. Murdock then calls out to reverse the wheel to port so that the ship’s stern and propellers will not hit the ice...



Morning - April 10, 1912

11:45 A.M.: The Titanic blows horns and signals imminent departure.
12:05 P.M.: Lines are cast off and Titanic began her maiden voyage and sails for Cherbourg, France

April 10 - 5:30 pm

Arrives Cherbourg, picks up more passengers

April 10 - 8:30 pm

Picks up anchor and sails for Queenstown

April 11 - 11:30 pm

Arrives Queenstown, picks up more passengers

April 12 & 13

Travels though calm waters

April 14

Warnings of Icebergs Ahead

April 14 - 11:40 pm

Hits Iceberg

April 14 - 11:50 pm

Water had poured in and risen 14 feet in the front part of the ship

April 15, 1912 - 02:20 am.

Titanic fully submerged and sinking down to eternity

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